There were long stretches of this book I feel went in one ear and out the other because I was reading whilst simultaneously thinking all of the things that I usually think, which take up an unhealthy amount of my headspace.
Trust me, I feel terribly that halfway through this book I was a little lost… I am one of those people that wants to be able to describe to you in GREAT detail a book that I read. I want to recommend it with exhibit A, B, C, and on through Z three times over.
I may not be able to do that with this book, but I did digest it, and I now see the who, what, where, when, and why, of it, even though the beginning left me a little muddled.
Here’s what I can say for this book, the largest reason that I had an issue reading it is because it relies SO HEAVILY on metaphors. The entire first half of the book is completely built on metaphor. Which is amazing. I am a metaphorphile… if that’s a thing. But it was hard to keep track of all the metaphors when I wasn’t giving it one hundred percent of my brainspan. I always found myself drifting in and out of consciousness, kind of like the main character, while reading through it and then berating myself for not even remembering a passage that I had read thirty seconds prior.
But by the middle of the book, it was a lot easier to follow if I was reading it, say, with my eyelids drooping. As my life has become increasingly busy–bittersweet–it’s been hard to set time aside to devote to my strict reading schedule. I promise I’ll get it back.Another thing is there weren’t chapters… necessarily. They were more like thoughts with headings… if that makes sense. So I wasn’t motivated to finish a chapter because the chapter ended on the next page.
But the great thing about this book is it so so so spot on about mental illness.
Challenger Deep follows Caden Bosch as he wavers in and out of reality–his unreality existing on a ship.
It is as simple as that. It is as simple as anxiety isn’t.
This book was wonderful. It really was. It was such a new and unique way to look at mental illness, and it was sort of a mystery as you connected pieces of his unreality to his reality. By the end of the book, I didn’t want to put it down because key players kept unveiling themselves and huge themes kept sort of smacking you in the face with their obviousness.
The book is very similar to that of Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of A Funny Story, in that there is mental illness, several mentally impaired humans, and artwork involved, and whenever artwork is involved, you know something is well-imagined, especially when the writer describes it like Neal Shusterman–our author–and Ned do.
You will not be disappointed with the ending.
The beginning is a struggle, and it will be so for anybody who picks the book up. Caden is manic, his thoughts are hard to follow, and since they’re only separated by headings and usually only last for like a half a page, you’re often left with a quizzical look on your face wondering what the hell you just read and what the hell it has to do with the rest of the book.
The way this book is written is very magical. It reads wonderfully. There were extra pronouns here or there the editor in me wanted to take out and there were some words that I didn’t feel were a good fit for the age range this book targets–young adult–but other than that, it was very well-imagined. So well-imagined, I often wondered if the author was on acid while he wrote it.
The writing was very lyrical, if a little hard to keep up with at times. But that happens in literary work, and I have to say, for the amount of unexplaining he did, it’s sort of incredible how in the loop I truly felt as the last page loomed. Like, yes, you will have read more paragraphs over during the duration of this book than ever before, but it will be worth it.
One of my favorite passages:
“Man is often lost in a technological, physiological, astrological lack of logical existence that can best be described as a whole lot of nothing lightly dashed with an obvious hint of Scotch,” Hal says. You wish you could remember it so you could recite it to your parents, and show them that you, too, are profound–but these days things just don’t go in one ear and out the other, they actually teleport, avoiding the space between.
GOOOOOD. I love that.
The storyline was great, hazy at first, like I said, I was wondering if the author was on acid. I didn’t know whether or not this book had a destination, much like Caden’s unreality, which so often seemed to be in pursuit of nothing. But it did and it was downright brilliant.
As for the characters, they were all unique and special. They all had that Something, they all grew to like each other after days upon days of not trusting one another, because how can you when you can’t even trust yourself? And I thought it was endearing how many of them found comfort in the idea that they weren’t alone in the label prescribed to them by a doctor.
By the end, everything came together so perfectly, I was sort of in awe that the writer managed it. Because it seemed crazy all over the place and I thought the mystery of the afterlife would sooner be solved than this book would come together. But he fathomed all the random ass thoughts into constellations–as John Green would say–and it was nothing short of genius.